If you’re considering having a child on your own, you’re in good company! More and more women are opting to be a “single mom by choice,” also sometimes called a “choice mom.” What this term means is that you are a “single woman who decides to become a mother knowing, at least at the outset, that she will be the sole parent of her child.” There are wonderful communities of these single moms whose stories can help inspire you, caution you, or simply make you feel understood.
By Michelle Stansbury, Eat, Drink, Be San Diego
While there are many questions to ask yourself if you are thinking of having a baby, as a single mom, you also have the advantage of making those choices quickly and decisively. Take a single mom in your life out to coffee to pick her brain about different issues, to gain a new perspective. Join an online forum to participate in discussions with other prospective single moms to get different insights. Having a baby as a single mom can be expensive and emotionally intense, so consider these five questions before you go too far down the road of getting pregnant.
1. Do you want your children to be genetically yours?
For some women, it is important to have their children share their genes. If this is important to you, you can rule out adoption and donor eggs to your list of options. Adoption, specifically, comes with many additional legal issues to consider, but can also be more streamlined than other methods. Some women arrive at adoption as a last resort, but it is valuable to consider it as an option at the beginning of your journey so you can understand the many benefits, as well as limitations, that come with adoption as a single mom.
Some of the legal matters to consider in adoption are state and federal regulations, the rights of birth and adoptive parents, the difference between working through an agency versus private attorneys and agencies, and potentially citizenship and immigration. With adoption, you have the option of what age you’d like to adopt your child at, opening up additional considerations. Older kids are often adopted through foster care, which provides an essentially free method of adopting a child as a single mom.
2. What age are you and what age do you want to be when you get pregnant?
If you choose to try to get pregnant yourself, this question can help answer whether or not to freeze your eggs, or go straight into trying to get pregnant. Every woman has different fertility clocks, and one good piece of information to gather is to get your ovarian reserves tested to see where you are in your own, unique biological journey.
But for almost every woman, the older you get, the harder it is to get pregnant. Egg quality decreases with time, and ovarian reserves diminish as you get older. That doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant when you’re older, it just means the process might be a little more complicated and could take additional time and money to become a single mom.
3. How many children do you want?
It might seem crazy to have to think about future children when you’re just now considering having one as a single mom! But deciding whether or not you want to have more than one child will make your decisions much easier. With adoption, you’ll consider adopting siblings so they can stay together. Some fertility treatments have an increased chance of having twins or multiples, so thinking about whether that would be a good or bad route for you will help narrow down fertility choices. And if you want to have multiple children but spaced apart, then your increasing age will make you want to plan ahead for future fertility.
Also, this is a good place to start thinking about sperm. There are two main types of sperm donors: known donors and anonymous donors. Why does this matter when you are considering how many children you want as a single mom? It brings up a secondary question: if you want multiple children, do you want them to share the same genetic father? If so, you’ll want to plan ahead to make sure you have frozen reserves of the sperm you plan to use.
4. What will your support network look like?
While we might use terms like ‘having a baby alone’ or ‘single mom,’ your support network is key to your parenthood plans. Consider what village you want to create to help raise your child. Your own parents might be a help in raising your child; many single moms live in multigenerational households because of this resource. If not your family, think about what friends you want to have an active role in raising your child and speak with anyone you want to have involved in your baby’s life to see what their willingness and capacity to help would be
5. What financial resources do you have available?
Beyond your support network, consider your other resources, like your budget. It is fairly easy to come up with a budget for your expenses when you have your baby. It might be overwhelming to calculate how many diapers you will go through, but creating the budget itself is fairly straightforward. The more difficult budget is what you need to spend to get pregnant or adopt as a single mom. These costs can vary widely, with some parents spending hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to conceive. Take a look at your finances before deciding which path to go down
to determine what budget you can afford, which might help dictate which method you use to build your family.
Michelle Stansbury is a San Diego-based blogger and freelance writer who writes about travel, food, cannabis, and relationships. Follow her @discovermichelle or visit https://www.eatdrinkbesd.com/. Her work has appeared in national magazines like Marie Claire, Forbes, Cosmo, Reader’s Digest, and Bustle.